By Dr. Chee Soon Juan
No, Ms Fu, children – including Amos – are a blessing, not a nightmare.
PAP Minister, Ms Grace Fu, is reported to have said: “It’s not just any YouTube video. It crosses the red line on religion. But I think that Amos Yee is not doing himself or his family any favors. How do you deal with a 16-year-old that is not able to comply with rules of society? It’s kind of a parent’s nightmare.”
I am a parent of three, two of whom are entering the stage of their lives when the bewildering labyrinth of an adolescent mind takes root.
During this complex period, I see my role as a father to be there for them no matter what; to be the ballast so that no matter how far they may drift, they know that they have someone to whom they can always come back. It is only with security in the knowledge that a parent is consistently there for them can children blossom.
But when things don’t turn out as we hope, we don’t label them as nightmares. We deal with them firmly but always with love. We do not label or disparage.
Our children are individuals of their own, with their own outlook in life, their own ways of interpreting the world around them. They are not you or me.
Our role as parents is not to make them feel or think like us. Rather, it is to nurture them, equip them with the tools that will help them handle triumphs and failures that life will inevitably throw at them.
It is, thus, rather troubling for Ms Fu to pontificate how Mr and Mrs Yee relate to their son when she doesn’t know the first thing about the Yee’s family history or dynamic.
If Mrs Yee says that Amos is “a fantastic child, perhaps born in the wrong country”, who is Ms Fu to say that the boy is “a parent’s nightmare”?
Worse, it is unfortunate that Ms Fu seeks to inject what looks suspiciously like political commentary into the episode.
The Yee family have their situation to deal with, they may have to undergo counseling for Amos. Whatever their recourse, let’s leave them to handle it without politicising the matter. The PAP must stop trying to make Singaporean youths conform to its worldview of a good society which usually means unquestioning obedience and compliance. We have been the poorer for it.
Instead, we should let children and teenagers grow and partake of life’s wide and wondrous menu of experiences and, in so doing, reap the rewards of a diverse, intelligent and mature society – not to mention joyous parents – that such enlightened approach brings.
This was first posted as a status update on Dr Chee’s facebook page in response to comments by Ms Grace Fu, Singapore’s second minister for foreign affairs.
Ms Fu was quoted by Associated Press to have said that she wasn’t concerned about the international response to the image of a teen shackled for speaking his mind online.